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Martha Williams

The way it used to be

Across The Counter
By Martha Williams, El Paso, Texas

Reprinted from November 1989

It was 9:20pm, and I was just finishing up the supper dishes, and wondering if I’d get to watch the late news and thinking about having to be at the dentist at 7am so I could be at the store by 8:30am, so I could mark some items and rearrange the storage closet before opening. Something fluttered through my mind about something a fellow at the beauty shop said last time I was getting my hair done. He was in the next chair getting a perm and when he found out what kind of business I was in he said I really had a soft job with good hours. Off hand I can’t remember why I didn’t get up and belt him one, but perhaps it was because I was afraid the curling iron might burn my neck.


The way it used to be

Across The Counter

By Martha Williams, El Paso, Texas

Reprinted from October 1989

Back when I first joined RB in the jewelry field I could read anything and could not understand what customers meant when they said they could not see the dials and therefore would not purchase the watch. I used to think how silly such an objection was and wonder why they just didn’t say they couldn’t afford it. Now that Mother Nature has been busy at work I find customers asking me why we carry so many large watches with such huge numbers. It has come to pass that I tend to stock watches more for their ability to be seen and utilized than style.

The way it used to be

Across The Counter
By Martha Williams, El Paso, Texas

Reprinted from September 1989

I was running the front counter the other day when a swarthy, young sailor ambled in. I was happy to see a prospective customer although somewhat taken by a sailor in uniform in our land-locked city.

The way it used to be

Across The Counter
By Martha Williams, El Paso, Texas
Reprinted from August 1989

Times have evolved adequately to erase some of our most cherished ideals.  Back in the gold ‘ole days grandpa had a dairy herd and each cow had a name.  Bossy, Betsy, Blossom and Hazel; each cow was given an individual identity. Now-a-days cows on dairy farms are given numbers. Cow number 36, 28, 45. Slowly and behind the scenes jewelers are also becoming numbers. Long gone are the days when one could pick up the phone and chat with a person who not only knew who you were, but knew exactly what you were talking about. When the factory or business responds now, the first thing they say is, “account number?”  Awhile back RB picked up the phone to call Heuer Watch for an order.  We usually order from the salesman or by mail so this was a relatively new experience for RB who right away tried to be as polite as possible. “Oh hi! I caught you huh? For a minute I thought you may have gone to lunch. “ 

The way it used to be

By Martha Williams, El Paso, Texas

Across the Counter

Reprinted from July 1989

We remember them all - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Customers, that is.  Customers we remember tend to fall into several categories: those who buy and never fuss; those who buy but fuss and cause minor problems; those who do nothing but fuss, and those who are tolerable.  All jewelers have all types, but where one great retailer once posted a sign which read:  “The customer is always right” and below it “If the customer is wrong, see sign above”, we went into our own business so we would not have to live with that theory, although we go out of our way to bend over backwards to appease customers.

Across the Counter

By Martha Williams, El Paso, Texas
Reprinted from June 1989

I don’t know who made up that slogan ‘Let your fingers do the walking’ but whoever it was should be sentenced to hard labor in Siberia. You notice it most on days when you are short handed or over worked.  The phone rings continually.  In a typical day you have responded to twenty five, maybe fifty phone calls.  No matter what city you live in or what size store you have, the questions are all the same; “How much do you charge to size a ring?” “What time do you open?”  “What time do you close?”  “How much to clean a watch?”  “Is my job ready?”  “Have you started on my job yet?”  “Where are you located?”  There are about fifteen inquiries which can be anticipated with a high degree of accuracy.

The way things used to be

A funny perspective of life as a retail jeweler in the ‘80s & ‘90s

In 1989, a year after Southern Jewelry News began publication, El Paso, Texas jeweler Martha Williams began writing a humorous column for the jewelry publication. Martha and her husband Ben got into the retail jewelry industry in the late 1960s. Her special sense of humor was instrumental in the growth of Southern Jewelry News. Martha wrote her popular column, “Across the Counter,” for over 10 years.

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